Closure of Judicial Proceedings in Florida
In Barron v. Florida Freedom Newspapers, Inc., 531 So. 2d 113 (Fla. 1988), the Court held that "both civil and criminal court proceedings in Florida are public events and adhere to the well established common law right of access to court proceedings and records." Id. at 116.
"Public trials are essential to the judicial system's credibility in a free society." Id.
However, as explained by the Court in Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Lewis, 426 So. 2d 1 (Fla. 1982), this proposition is counterbalanced by the proposition that courts have the inherent power to preserve order and decorum in the courtroom, as well as the responsibility to protect the rights of the parties and witnesses and to further the administration of justice. Id. at 3.
Lewis articulated the prevailing test in Florida for closure of judicial proceedings, concluding that closure is justified where:
Closure is necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice;
No alternatives are available, other than change of venue, which would protect a defendant's right to a fair trial; and
Closure would be effective in protecting the rights of the accused, without being broader than necessary to accomplish this purpose. (426 So. 2d at 6.)